Photo of the day: View from plane of the southern islands of Thailand. Photo credit: Aaron.
We are ready for yet another travel day. Even though we are not moving around as much as in Vietnam, it still gets tiring. Inertia is real. I really enjoyed my stay in Chiang Mai. I would say it’s probably one of the most livable cities we’ve stayed in during this trip. It is not too crowded, the weather (at least during this part of the year) is perfect, and most importantly, good food and activities are very accessible. I will miss Chiang Mai, as we embark on the next part of our journey. But before we go, I must have another bowl of that beef noodle soup from Rod Yiam. We had an 1pm flight so we tried to get there as soon as they were open at 10:30am. We both ordered the egg noodle with streaky beef and tendon this time. To my disappointment, it did not taste as delicious as it did the other day. Perhaps because it was still the beginning of the day and the broth did not have time to fully gain its richness? Aaron appreciated how it is tasted different depending on the time of the day, while I was less impressed. So if you want to try this noodle, maybe try coming later in the day?
After the noodles, we walked back to the condo to check-out, then off to the airport in an Uber. The domestic terminal was not too busy and we were at the gate in no time. After another short 2 hour flight, we were looking over a surreal scene of turquoise blue water with a cluster of gorgeous islands (see photo of the day). It was a definitely a nice way to welcome us to the southern islands of Thailand. And our point of interest: Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket). We decided to stay in Phuket town for a few days, which may come as a surprise for a lot of people. Most tourists would choose to stay along the beach resorts to just enjoy the sunshine and lovely waters. However, we read that there was actually really good food to be tracked down in the town, so we could not miss this opportunity.
There were several options to get to the Phuket town (or the beach towns). Since uber was not an option in Phuket, we had to choose an alternative.
- You can take the big orange airport bus. It would cost only around 100 THB per person and would take 1 hour and 20 minutes. The downside is that the bus only comes every 1 – 1.5 hour, so if we took this option, we would have had to wait for the bus for at least half an hour.
- You can take the cheap mini vans for 100 THB per person. There were stands for it everywhere in the arrivals exit. What a good deal we thought! There is, of course, a catch. We read they would detour to travel agencies to gain some commission along the way. The travel time is also unknown because they will have to drop off passengers along the way to their hotels.
- The most direct option is the hotel can provide airport transfers for a fee. For example, our hotel was charging 1000 THB per way.
- Another direct option, for a lower price was to get a metered-taxi. There will be many people offering taxi services, but the official one requires you to go to a orange stand at the far right side once you exit the arrivals hall. You will then get a number and a complaints slip in case the driver overcharges you, doesn’t drop you off at the right location, etc. It is supposed to be the most reliable taxis you can get at the airport. They will charge you a 100 airport fee and will use the meter for the trip. Our trip cost 690 THB but he was honest to give us a 20 baht discount because he went the wrong way and had to rely on our phone to get to the hotel, which is evidently not very well known.
Our accommodation was Blu Monkey Hotel and Hub – a hotel (but what I would call an upscale-hostel) and co-working space. It had an awesome design with large and comfortable co-working/board games/hang out space, a big breakfast/snacks area, as well as a modest gym and pool. The rooms were again very modern with a small balcony attached. I later found out that this hotel hosts a lot of Chinese tour groups, which explains why most of the signs were not in English or Thai but in Chinese.
I was getting really hungry, so we were on a hunt for some food. It was around 5pm and the streets were so quiet. Aaron had a place he found on Foursquare but it was not yet open for business. We did not know whether the other restaurants were just not busy because it was early or because they were not good, so we decided to just grab some snacks at 7-11 instead. We tried the Mama brand creamy Tom Yum cup noodle. It was as delicious as the usual Mama brand Tom Yum instant noodle I ate growing up. We also munched on some bananas and brownies provided by the hotel.
We still had some time before we expected things to get busy around here, so we took a quick dip in the pool. It was quite refreshing. There were no pool towels provided so we just used our room towels expecting that we could get fresh ones later but apparently housekeeping went home, so we will need to wait for tomorrow for fresh towels. At the end, we had to be creative with the small hand towels they provided.
Finally, it was dinner time! We headed out again at around 7pm, but this time towards 2 restaurants Mark Wiens recommended. I figured, if one doesn’t work out, we would have another option. We first tried to find Krua Charifa Restaurant for some halal food. It wasn’t easy to find since the address on google maps was wrong. The key was to search using the Thai name instead. We got there but it did not look too busy and we were not too interested in the food options, so we decided to go to the second restaurant. Again, this was tricky to find but when we finally found it, we found out it was closed. Luckily, we passed by the Talad Kaset Night Market, so we just went there instead. Aaron was eyeing a fried chicken stall, so we went back there. Again, they were speaking us in Thai and were surprised when we opened our mouths and spoke English. We had the option to choose fried chicken, roast pork, BBQ pork and duck to go with rice. We just ordered two fried chicken plates. It came with some soup as well as some cucumbers on the side. We had so many sauces to choose from at our table to add to our chicken. I liked the sweet soy sauce the most. The chicken was extra crunchy because they added extra crunchy batter on top after chopping up the chicken. The portion sizes were modest but I was content after I finished my meal.
We ended the night just getting some work done at the nice co-working space back at the hotel.